Area man sees good in cancer diagnosis
Mark Smith’s world stood still when he heard the “C word.”
At a routine appointment, Smith had casually asked his doctor about a lump he had been dealing with on his breast for nearly a year. The result was a diagnosis that changed his life completely.
The husband and father of three was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008. After surgery to remove the cancerous lump, he underwent six rounds of chemotherapy to have a better chance at staying cancer-free.
Smith said his journey through recovery would have been different without his support system – his family and friends and his church family.
“Getting that news was pretty devasting, but then having to come back and tell my family and kids – that was worse,” he said. “I told them I was scared but needed their help to get through it.
“I’ve told people before that going through that diagnosis and my recovery was probably one of the worst things that I’ve ever experienced, but it’s also one of the best,” Smith added. “It’s one of the worst things to hear those three words, “You have cancer,” – to be faced with my own mortality.
“But then you get to see so much good in people and the response from everybody around you. I got cards from all over the country, from people I didn’t even know. I still have every one of them, in a box. I kept them in that box for a reason. That’s what kept me going.
“You have good days and bad days when you’re going through chemo,” he said. “That’s rough, and I wouldn’t wish that on anybody. When I would have a bad day, I would get the cards out and reread them. I probably have them memorized by now.”
During his second round of chemotherapy, when Smith’s hair began falling out, a friend offered to shave his head for him. The experience was one he said stands out in his memory because another friend sat beside him the entire time and also had his head shaved to show support.
“Another friend of mine came every week and mowed my yard for me while I was laying on the couch and couldn’t move,” he said. “Cancer was bad, physically and emotionally, but it was also good. It made me realize a different perspective on things.”
His diagnosis, Smith said, made him more appreciative of what he’s been blessed with.
It’s been 12 years since Smith heard those life-changing words, and Smith said he’s thankful to have learned and lived through it. He’s also thankful for the unwavering love and support his friends, family and support system showed him throughout his battle with breast cancer.
Mark is married to Jill, and they have three children, Nicole, Hannah and Isaac. The Smiths are members of the Eva Church of Christ.